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The Top 10 State Legislative Issues of 2016

Emma Thomas

Emma Thomas

Sep 17, 2016

In 2016, state legislators introduced over 60 thousand bills covering everything from foreign trade to education. California’s state legislature finally adjourned on August 31st, leaving only Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey state legislatures still currently in session. Over the last nine months, state legislators have introduced the highest number of bills on the following 10 issues.

1. Economics and Public Finance

In 2016, the number one issue area in state legislatures was public finance, with 11,135 bills introduced nationwide. Bills in this issue area fell into 12 subcategories including appropriations, budgets, and local finance. Arkansas and Mississippi enacted the most legislation on public finance this year.

2. Health

Health legislation was the second most common type of legislation introduced in state legislatures, with 10,088 bills. Virginia, Maryland, and Colorado enacted the greatest number of health-related bills.


3. Crime and Law Enforcement

Across state legislatures, 9,761 crime and law enforcement state bills were introduced. Virginia enacted 151 bills on crime, which was the most of any state legislature.

4. Education

Education was the fourth most prominent policy area for state legislation this year. 9,363 state bills were introduced, 1,497 of which were enacted. Arkansas, Virginia, and Mississippi legislatures led the country in the most enacted education legislation.

5. Commerce

There were 6,596 state bills on commerce introduced in 2016, which was far less than the 15,131 state commerce bills introduced in 2015.

6. Taxation

State legislatures introduced 5,826 bills on taxes this year. Enacted tax legislation included provisions on transportation facilities in Missouri and a bill in New York extending the occupancy tax in Rye Brook village.

7.  Labor and Employment

There were 5,454 labor and employment bills introduced in 2016. 909 of the introduced bills on labor were enacted, with California and Mississippi leading the way.


8.  Finance and Financial Sector

Across state legislatures, 4,855 pieces of legislation on finance and the financial sector were introduced. Louisiana, Tennessee, and Virginia enacted the greatest amount of legislation related to finance and the financial sector this year.

9. Transportation and Public Works

State legislatures introduced 5,030 bills related to transportation and public works. Enacted legislation included Massachusetts’ bill regulating transportation network companies, Vermont’s transportation funding legislation, and a bill in New Jersey permitting rear view backup cameras and parking sensors on cars during road tests.

10. Housing and Community Development 

Finally, the tenth most common policy issue driving legislation in 2016 was housing and community development, with 3,432 introduced state bills. This included legislation on homelessness and emergency shelters, cooperative housing, and community development funding.



See Why State Legislatures Are More Productive Than Congress


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